From strategic merchandising to staying on top of the most popular trends, consistently applying best practices to regular traffic-driving categories like electrical and lighting will set your operation up for continual improvement and ever-increasing sales. It is easy to become complacent with core categories in your business—you may stick with the same planograms or become comfortable with long-time product offerings.
To keep the electrical and lighting category from going dim at your operation, hear from two retailers who have found success in this category and shed light on ways to grow and improve your electrical department.
ABOUT THE RETAILERS
Tim Robinson purchased Dover True Value Hardware in Dover Foxcroft, Maine, in 1994 and has since doubled the selling space of its electrical and lighting category. The 6,000-square-foot store serves an even mix of contractors and DIYers and has 76 feet of selling space dedicated to electrical and lighting.
In 2021, Joe Matyas became assistant retail manager of the 35,000-square-foot Penticton Home Hardware Building Centre, one of the six locations in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, for Pro Builders Supply Ltd. The operation serves a customer base of 70% contractors and 30% DIYers, has 7,000 square feet of space dedicated to electrical and lighting and updated its lighting planogram at the end of February.
Project Know-How: Find out how employees from one operation help customers through common electrical projects at hardwareretailing.com/electrical-projects.
1. Know Your Customers and Cater to Them.
A key strategy in any home improvement category is listening to customer needs. When it comes to electrical and lighting, it’s important to pay attention to new technologies and updated electric codes to offer the best products that meet your customer’s wants and needs.
“We constantly ask our contractors what products we are missing,” Robinson says. “When other customers come in looking for something we don’t have, we make a note of it. If we have several individuals who are looking for the same product, we add it to our mix.”
If you are part of a multistore operation that uses set planograms, there are opportunities to better customize your offerings to your customer base.
“When we receive a planogram, we try to tailor it to our local customers to make sure we’re serving their needs,” Matyas says. “We do this by looking at our historical sales and evaluating if the new planogram has our current best sellers. If not, this sometimes means going to outside vendors to bring in certain items our customers are looking for.”
When you know your audience, you can focus your efforts on the core group that drives sales in a category.
2. Stock Trendy Products.
Electrical and lighting trends can change quickly, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the hottest products and styles.
“When sales decline, it indicates it may be time to refresh the whole department,” Matyas says.
Penticton Home Hardware Building Centre’s updated lighting planograms feature new fixtures as well as new finishes and updated designs. Matyas also expanded WiFi-controlled lightbulb offerings.
“Our stock was a little dated,” Matyas says. “Early feedback from the customers has been positive following the recent reset.”
OPERATIONS: Top Tools Discover five must-have electrical tools for DIYers at hardwareretailing.com/electrical-tools.
3. Use Social Media.
Technology and advertising are powerful tools, and social media is a mix of the two that grows connections between communities and businesses and is an easy way to promote your product offerings.
“We have consistent TV and website ads for all locations, but each store has its own unique social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook,” Matyas says. “Our store’s social media strategy considers seasonal changes—during the summer we may promote more outdoor lights and during the winter we may advertise more string lights.”
Merchandising updates or improved product selections are impactful upgrades to feature on social media platforms.
“We put a spotlight on our lighting reset on social media with videos showing off the new fixtures and asking customers to come in to check it out,” Matyas says. “It increases customer awareness and encourages them to visit our store.”
Lighting Up Electrical Problems: Gain insight and help customers understand how to protect their investments from costly, dangerous electrical problems at hardwareretailing.com/electrical-problems.
4. Showcase as Many Light Fixtures as Possible and Keep Displays Organized.
Bright lighting displays draw customers in, encouraging sales.
“When you don’t have lighting on display, it is harder to sell,” Matyas says. “Providing accurate visual representations of products results in an easier shopping experience and better overall customer experience.”
A positive customer experience can also be influenced by cleanliness. When employees are busy assisting customers, it doesn’t take long for displays to descend into chaos—establishing an upkeep plan increases tidiness.
“A couple of employees are assigned to the department and check it daily,” Matyas says. “I find when displays aren’t neat, customers are more likely to return products to the wrong place. Assigning staff members to fill displays and keep the department organized is very important.”
5. Utilize Clip Strips and Consider Add-On Opportunities.
Merchandising strategically increases add-on sales and transaction sizes. Matyas says he recently added clip strips in his operation and uses them in the electrical aisle to help sell complete projects.
“I questioned employees on what products they are asked about in certain aisles and searched for relevant add-on items to feature on clip strips in those departments,” Matyas says.
Featured clip strip products do not have to come from a different department or aisle either.
“Even if a product is on a nearby shelf, I’ll put some of that product on a clip strip,” Matyas says. “Doing this draws attention to that product and reminds customers of their need for them when they are looking at different products for their projects,” Matyas says.